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Philippine university bans anti-Islam film

Filipino Muslims prepare burn a mock American and Israeli flags during a rally at Marawi city in southern Philippines Monday, Sept. 17, 2012 to protest an anti-Islam video. (AP Photo)

MANILA: One of the Philippines' top universities said Friday it had banned a lecturer from showing an inflammatory anti-Islamic film for security reasons, but the law professor insisted he would still screen it.

Harry Roque, a prominent human rights lawyer and lecturer at the state-run University of the Philippines in Manila, plans to show the "Innocence of Muslims" during a lecture on constitutional rights on Friday evening.

But the UP College of Law, which has produced several Philippine presidents and Supreme Court justices, issued a statement saying: "It (the movie showing) will not push through for security reasons".

No other details were given but a staff member at the college, who asked not to be identified, said the decision to ban the screening came after Roque publicly announced his plans and they garnered media attention.

Roque said he felt obliged to show the excerpts of the film that have been posted on YouTube to teach his students about freedom of expression.

"I am going to show it. It is more important to show it now that they are trying to prevent me from showing it," Roque told AFP, adding the seminar would be open to the public as well as his students.

Asked about security concerns, Roque said: "It is dangerous to uphold freedom. That is the lesson we should take".

The amateurish film, made by a Coptic Christian in the United States, has triggered protests by Muslims in at least 20 countries since excerpts were posted online. More than 30 people have been killed in related violence.

Although the Philippines is largely Christian, it has a Muslim minority based largely in the far south, some of whom have been waging a decades-long armed struggle for independence or autonomy.

On Monday, hundreds of Filipino Muslims in the southern city of Marawi staged a rally over the film, burning US and Israeli flags. However no violence took place.

The country's main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is engaged in peace talks with the government, has rejected Al-Qaeda calls to attack U.S. targets over the film.

 

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